Brave Enough

320p. Flux. Aug. 2018. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781635830200.
Gr 9 Up—Cason Martin lives for ballet and is headed for a prestigious position with a dance company when cancer ends her dream. Davis Channing struggles with the aftermath of cancer and recovery from a narcotics addiction. The teens' shared experiences and pain forge a bond challenged by Cason's controlling mother, Davis's former dealer and an addicted ex-girlfriend, and the necessity of accommodating new ways of living. Gardner roots the story in her childhood, offering readers a glimpse into coping with serious illness and adapting to significant changes, as well as including more typical parent and peer issues. Although Gardner's prose and dialogue are stilted at times—including a few sections of overt medical exposition—the overall emotional impact and small, daily acts of courage carry the book. She chronicles Cason's treatment and therapy ups and downs without over-dramatizing them or avoiding the slow and often ugly process, while Davis's constant desire to use is realistic and raw. A conclusion set at "Camp Chemo" is predictable yet satisfying.
VERDICT A solid addition to YA shelves and a next read for fans of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.

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